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Important Current Affairs 4th August 2021

INTERNATIONAL

IMF approved $650 bln allocation of SDR

• The Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have approved a record general allocation of $650 billion in IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR), to help boost global liquidity. The $650 billion SDR allocation aims to support member countries, especially emerging and developing nations, battling the C-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused.

• This allocation is the largest-ever distribution in the IMF’s 77-year history, in terms of monetary reserves assets. The allocation will become effective from August 23, 2021. The newly created SDRs will be credited to member countries in proportion to their existing quotas shareholding in the Fund.

NATIONAL

Ordnance Factory launched new sound weapon ‘TriCa’

• The Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli (OFT) in Tamil Nadu launched a new high-tech and low sound weapon called TriCa (Trichy Carbine), a mini version of the Trichy Assault Rifle (TAR). It was unveiled by General Manager of OFT Sanjay Dwivedi, IOFS (Indian Ordnance Factories Service) during a function.

• The lighter and compact weapon, carbine TriCa is designed for the infantry combat vehicle, helicopter crew and security personnel for operations that call for a compact and relatively powerful individual automatic weapon. The weapon is also for paratroopers, police and security personnel guarding highly secure facilities such as airports, and for use by the Special Operation Forces.

European Space Agency launched ‘Eutelsat Quantum’

• European Space Agency (ESA) launched ‘Eutelsat Quantum’, the world’s 1st commercial reprogrammable satellite into space aboard Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. It is a fully flexible software-defined satellite. The satellite has been developed under a European Space Agency partnership project with satellite operator Eutelsat, Airbus & Surrey Satellite Technology.

• A reprogrammable satellite allows the user to repurpose it even after being launched into orbit. It can be reprogrammed in real-time to suit the changing purposes of the user. The Quantum satellite is capable of responding to changing demands for data transmission and secure communication during its lifespan of 15 years and will cover the areas from West Africa to Asia. The satellite will remain in geostationary orbit for its 15-year lifespan, after which it will be safely placed in a graveyard orbit away from Earth to avoid becoming a risk to other satellites.

Fortune Global 500 list 2021 : 7 Indian Companies Featured is the list

• Seven Indian companies have found a place in 2021 Fortune’s Global 500 list. The Fortune Global 500 is an annual ranking of the top 500 enterprises globally, as measured by business revenues. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd is the highest-ranked Indian company on the list in terms of revenue, with revenues of nearly $63 billion. It is placed at 155th spot globally.

• Globally, Walmart has topped the list in terms of revenue for the eighth consecutive year and the 16th time since 1995. China has dominated this years list for the highest number of companies featuring in the list at 143, including those from Taiwan. This is followed by the U.S. with 122, and Japan with a total of 53, respectively.

Operation Blue Freedom

• The government of India has accorded sanctions to Team CLAW to lead a team of people with disabilities to scale Siachen Glacier. It will be a new world record for the largest team of people with disabilities. This expedition is being undertaken as part of ‘Operation Blue Freedom’. It aims to shatter the common perception of pity, charity, and inability associated with people with disabilities and recreate it to one of dignity, freedom, and ability.

• Operation Blue Freedom was launched in 2019 by CLAW Global, a team of former Special Forces Operatives of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy. The Operation is a social impact venture aimed at rehabilitating people with disabilities through adaptive adventure sports. Moreover, their focus is also to ‘design and implement sustainable large-scale employment solutions’ for people with disabilities, especially in the ‘Environment conservation and Sustainability’ space.

Government of India cuts Mudra loans target to Rs 3 trillion in Financial Year 2022

• The government has set the loans disbursement target under the PM Mudra Yojana (PMMY) at Rs 3 trillion for 2021-22 (FY22). This target is lower than the previous year. For FY21, the target was set at Rs 3.21 trillion. Experts attribute the lower target to increased allocation under the credit guarantee scheme for small businesses.

• Under PMMY, credit up to Rs 10 lakh is provided by banks and non-banking financial companies for entrepreneurial activities to small business units, including for new enterprises in sectors such as manufacturing, trading, services and activities allied to agriculture. The central government allocates annual targets for sanctioning of loans under the scheme. In FY22, loans worth Rs 3,804 crore have been sanctioned by 13 public sector banks (PSBs) as of June 25.

BOOKS & AUTHOR

Book ‘Leopard Diaries – the Rosette in India’ by Wildlife Biologist Sanjay Gubbi

• Wildlife Biologist, Sanjay Gubbi authored a book about Leopard titled ‘Leopard Diaries – the Rosette in India’, in which he says about the food habits, ecological context, and conservation of Leopard along with the suggestions to overcome leopard–human conflict. The book also details Sanjay Gubbi’s practical engagement as a conflict manager, adviser to the State government, and leopard PR (Public Relations) person. The book was published by Westland.

• Leopard is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the cat family, Felidae. As per the government’s report, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of leopards, about 26 per cent of the total number estimated in the country.

Book “My Own Mazagon” authored by Captain Ramesh Babu

• A new book titled “My Own Mazagon” has authored by Captain Ramesh Babu. The book published by Indus Source Books features the history and story of Mazagon, the island which was merged into a single entity as Bombay. The Book will be jointly released by Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command, Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad, (Retd.), CMD Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited.

• The Book rediscovers the forgotten history of Mazagon and resurrects the identity of Maza Gaon, or ‘My own Village’. Captain Ramesh Babu retired from Mumbai after serving the Indian Navy at Mazagon Dock. Other books authored by Capt. Babu: “After You Sir: A Collection of School Stories” and “Calicut Heritage Trails”.

RANKING

QS Best Student Cities Ranking : Mumbai, Bengaluru lose top-100 spots

• Mumbai and Bengaluru are out of the global top-100 list and are currently ranking at 106 and 110, respectively in the latest edition of the QS Best Student Cities Ranking. While Mumbai lost 29 places, Bengaluru fell by 21 places in the ninth edition of the rankings brought out by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds.

• Globally, the results, which enable students to compare 115 premier educational destinations, see London retain its status as the world’s best student city for the third consecutive edition. It is followed by Munich, which rises from 4th to 2nd. Seoul, which jumps from 10th to joint-3rd, shares the bronze-medal position with Olympic hosts Tokyo.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Reserve Bank of India Authorises IndusInd Bank to act as an ‘Agency Bank’

• The IndusInd Bank has been empanelled by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to act as an ‘Agency Bank’. As an Agency Bank, IndusInd becomes eligible to carry out transactions related to all kinds of government-led businesses. This decision is based on the RBI guideline that authorises scheduled private sector banks as agency banks of the regulator for the conduct of government business.

• IndusInd Bank now joins few other private banks of the country listed as Agency Bank of RBI, to carry out general banking business on behalf of the central and state government, apart from offering its customers the convenience of undertaking routine financial transactions through its banking platform.

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Important Current Affairs 20th April 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Italy launched first ever mega food park in Gujarat

• Italy has launched its first-ever mega food park project in India, at Fanidhar in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. The project aims to create synergy between agriculture and industry of the two countries and focuses on the research and development of new and more efficient technologies in the sector.

• With this Italy also aims to explore the great opportunities offered by the Indian market. This is the first Italian-Indian food park project, an initiative in the food-processing field, which serves as a pillar of the partnership between India and Italy.

NATIONAL

Gender Samvaad event launched by Ministry of Rural Development

• The Ministry of Rural Development recently launched the Gender Samvaad Event. It is a joint initiative between DAY-NRLM and IWWAGE.

• The main objective of the Gender Samvaad event was to create awareness of gender-related interventions under the DAY-NRLM. DAY-NRLM is Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission. IWWAGE is Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy.

SPORTS

Max Verstappen Wins Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix 2021

• Max Verstappen (Red Bull – Netherlands) won the Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix 2021, in Imola, Italy. This win is his first victory of the season. The race was the second round of the 2021 Formula One World Championship.

• The seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain) finished second, following a crash and sustaining damage involving Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Lando Norris (McLaren – Great Britain) took third place.

OBITUARY

Veteran Tamil actor and comedian Vivek passed away

• Renowned Tamil actor and comedian Vivek has passed away. He was launched by legendary filmmaker K Balachander in the late 1980s. He went on to become one of the most sought after comedy actors of Tamil cinema in the 1990s and retained a stronghold in the industry.

• The actor was awarded the Padma Shri in 2009 for his excellent work in Tamil cinema. He acted in over 200 movies. He was last seen in Dharala Prabhu, which was the Tamil remake of the Hindi film Vicky Donor.

Marathi filmmaker Sumitra Bhave passed away

• Acclaimed Marathi filmmaker, Sumitra Bhave has passed away. Sumitra Bhave was popular as a duo with filmmaker Sunil Sukthankar in Marathi cinema and Marathi theatre. She was known for her out-of-the-box content and also for the way she handled social issues in her films.

• The duo of Sumitra and Sunil together directed several popular films like Doghi, Dahavi Fa, Vastupurush, Devrai, Badha, Ek Cup Chya, Samhita, Astu, Kaasav, among others. They have won National Film Awards in Best Non-Feature Film on Family Welfare, Best Educational / Motivational / Instructional Film, Best Film on Other Social Issues, Best Feature Film categories.

Kannada writer Ganjam Venkatasubbiah passed away

• Veteran Kannada writer Ganjam Venkatasubbiah, who also was a grammarian, editor, lexicographer and literary critic, has passed away. He was 107. He was commonly known as a walking encyclopedia of Kannada language and culture, in his literary circles.

• Professor G Venkatasubbaiah had compiled 12 dictionaries and had authored around 60 books. He received the Padma Shri in 2017 for his proficiency in Kannada literature, poetry, essays and translations. Apart from this, we were also a recipient of the Kannada Sahitya Akademi Award and the Pampa Award among others.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Murali Natarajan re-appointed as DCB Bank MD and CEO

• Private sector lender, DCB Bank has received approval from the Reserve Bank of India for the re-appointment of Murali M. Natrajan as the Managing Director & CEO, for a further period of one year from April 29, 2021.

• He was appointed as MD and CEO of DCB Bank in May 2009. Prior to joining DCB, Natrajan has worked with foreign banks Standard Chartered & Citibank.

IMPORTANT DAYS

UN Chinese Language Day observed on 20 April

• UN Chinese Language Day is observed globally on April 20 every year. The day has been chosen to pay tribute to Cangjie, who is a mythical figure who is presumed to have invented Chinese characters about 5,000 years ago.

• The 1st Chinese Language Day was celebrated in 2010 on the 12th of November, but since 2011 the date has been on the 20th of April. The day celebrates multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization.

RANKING

Henley Passport Index 2021 released India stands at number 84

• Amid the rising COVID-19 cases and subsequent restrictions on travel overseas, when many countries are banning individuals from worst-hit nations, the Henley Passport Index on April 17 released its list of the most powerful passports.

• India stands at number 84 on the list, as the Indian citizens can visit Visa-Free or Visa-on-Arrival in over 58 places. Japan, Singapore and Germany, South Korea stand in Top 3 respectively.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI sets up committee to review working of Asset Reconstruction Companies

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a six-member panel to carry out a comprehensive review of the working of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) in the financial sector ecosystem.

• The panel will be headed by former Executive Director of RBI, Sudarshan Sen.

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Important Current Affairs 27th March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence

• Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of its Independence and National Day on 26 March, coinciding with the grand celebration of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

• On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh was proclaimed as an independent nation by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and this led to Bangladesh Liberation War when war ensued between Pakistan and Bangladesh liberation forces with Indian support.

NATIONAL

IIT Kharagpur wins CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 6.0

• A team of four undergraduate students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur emerged as winners at the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 6.0, sponsored by Cushman and Wakefield, KI and IA: Interior Architects. The team comprised Siddhant Samarth, Pratim Majumdar, Rishita Raj and Utkarsh Agrawal and were guided by Prof. Jenia Mukherjee (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences).

• The team from IIT Kharagpur was one of the four teams to progress into the final round out of 1300 teams all over the world and were pitted against the University of Washington, New York University and the University of Denver in the final round hosted online on 18th March 2021. This is the first time that a squad from India has emerged as winners in the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge since the inception of the competition in 2015.

Vizag gets mobile water from air kiosk and Water Knowledge Centre

• The Hyderabad-based startup, Maithri Aquatech has set up the world’s first mobile water-from-air kiosk and ‘Water Knowledge Centre’ in the smart city of Visakhapatnam. This initiative is supported by Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and project SEWAH (Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health) – an alliance between USAID and SWN (Safe Water Network).

• The kiosk will provide clean potable water from the air by making use of Maithri Aquatech’s Meghdoot solution as a source to generate water with no dependency on groundwater as well as surface water resources.

• The kiosk will also function as a Water Knowledge Resource Centre (WRKC) by creating awareness and imparting necessary information to members of the local underserved communities as well as nearby schools on the benefits of good water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices.

J&K LG Manoj Sinha e-inaugurates 73 AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres

• Jammu and Kashmir, LG Manoj Sinha has e-inaugurated 73 AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres under Ayushman Bharat across the UT. These centres aim to promote good health and expanding the outreach of comprehensive primary healthcare services to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

• The Lt Governor observed that AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres would be a game-changer in the UT of J&K, especially in promoting the AYUSH sector, so that comprehensive primary health care through AYUSH principles and practices is provided to the community for achieving the basic objective of holistic wellness model by advocating self-care and home remedies amongst the community.

Features of Health & Wellness Centres:

• Some of the features of AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres include medicinal plants garden, yoga space, providing training and suggestions for home treatment, promoting Dincharya (Art of healthy Living), Ritucharya (Wellness calendar) and a personalized healthcare approach.

SPORTS

Khelo India Scheme extended till 2025-26

• Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has decided to extend the Khelo India scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26. The Ministry has furnished an Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) memorandum to the Ministry of Finance for extension/continuation of the Khelo India Scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

• An amount of Rs 8750 crore has been estimated as the financial implication of the new Khelo India Scheme (2021-22 to 2025-26) in the EFC memorandum furnished to the Ministry of Finance. An amount of Rs 657.71 crore has been allocated in the Budget Estimate (B.E.) for the year 2021-22 under the Khelo India Scheme.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vajra’ commissioned to the Indian Coast Guard

• L&T-built Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) ICGS Vajra was commissioned into the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, at Chennai. ICGS Vajra is the sixth vessel in the series of seven OPVs being built by L&T under a Ministry of Defence contract signed in the year 2015. Like the five OPVs in the series, ICGS Vajra was also delivered ahead of the contractual schedule.

• OPVs are long-range surface ships, capable of operation in maritime zones of India, including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities.

• Their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control and surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations with limited wartime roles. It can attain a sustained speed of up to 26 knots.

• The entire design and construction process has been certified by the American Bureau of Shipping as well as the Indian Registrar of Shipping and overseen by the ICG’s resident team at Kattupalli.

India conducts first-ever joint patrol in Madagascar EEZ

• In a first, the navies of India and Madagascar undertook joint patrolling of Madagascar’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and also conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX). The first-ever joint patrol between the navies reflects the growing defence ties between the two Indian Ocean neighbours aimed at the common objective of ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

• Indian Naval Ship INS Shardul made a port call at Antsiranana, Madagascar as part of the First Training Squadron’s (1TS) Overseas Deployment. INS Shardul and Malagasy Navy ship MNS Trozona carried out a Passage Exercise (PASSEX). The Joint exercise bears testimony to the growing bonds between the maritime forces of both the nations and aimed at common objectives of ensuring mariti

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Saurabh Garg appointed as new CEO of UIDAI

• Senior bureaucrat, Saurabh Garg has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as part of a bureaucratic reshuffle effected by the Centre. Mr Garg is at present serving in his cadre state Odisha. He is a 1991 batch IAS officer.

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Mr Garg as the CEO, UIDAI in the rank and pay of Additional Secretary, an order issued by the Personnel Ministry.

Atish Chandra appointed as CMD of Food Corporation of India

• Atish Chandra has been appointed as Chairman and Managing Director, Food Corporation of India in the rank and pay of Additional Secretary.

• Mr Chandra, a 1994 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, is currently Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

Anish Shah to take over as M&M’s Managing Director, CEO

• Anish Shah who is set to take over as the managing director and CEO of Mahindra and Mahindra from 2 April will become the first professional executive to oversee the entire business of the $19.4 billion Mahindra Group. Pawan Goenka will retire as MD and CEO and member of the board effective April 2.

• Group chairman Anand Mahindra will be taking on a non-executive role. The markets regulator Sebi has mandated that from April 2022 the chairperson of the board of top 500 listed entities must be a non-executive director and not be related to the MD or CEO.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Earth Hour 2021: 27 March

• Every year, the Earth Hour is celebrated worldwide on the last Saturday of March month to show support for the fight against climate change and commitment towards a better planet. Earth Hour 2021 is being marked on March 27, 2021. The Earth Hour 2021 theme will focus on “Climate Change to Save Earth.”

• The Day is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), encouraging individuals, communities, corporates, and households to turn off their lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. It was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 to raise awareness for energy consumption and its effects on the environment.

World Theatre Day: 27 March

• World Theatre Day is observed globally on 27th March every year. World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), France. It is celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. This day is a celebration for those who can see the value and importance of the art form “theatre”, and acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognised its value to the people and to the individual and have not yet realised its potential for economic growth.

• Every year the Executive Council of ITI chooses an outstanding theatre personality to write the message for World Theatre Day. The author of the Message of World Theatre Day 2021 is Helen MIRREN, United Kingdom. The first World Theatre Day Message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962.

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Important Current Affairs 21st March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Dutch PM Mark Rutte powers to fourth straight election win

• Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte has won the 2021 parliamentary elections with most seats to be sworn in as the Prime Minister for the fourth straight term. Earlier Rutte and his entire Cabinet offered their resignation on 15 January 2021 in response to a scandal relating to child welfare fraud, however, Rutte remained in office till the conclusion of the 2021 election.

• Rutte has been Prime Minister of the Netherlands since October 2010.

Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as Tanzania’s first woman President

• Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as the sixth President of Tanzania, becoming the first female leader of the East African country. The 61-year-old Hassan assumed the presidency, following the death of previous President John Magfufuli, due to a heart condition.

• She will finish Magufuli’s second five-year term, which will run until 2025. Prior to taking charge as President, Hassan was the Vice-President of Tanzania, also being the first female vice-president of the country, since November 2015.

SPORTS

Athlete Avinash Sable Sets New National Record In Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

• The Indian athlete Avinash Sable set a new national record in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event in the ongoing Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championships in Patiala, with timing of 8:20.20. With this, the 26-year-old Avinash broke his own record of 8:21.37 which he set in 2019, after finishing 13th in the final of the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

• The army man from the arid Beed district of Maharashtra broke the national record for the fifth time in his career. Sable has already secured a berth in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in men’s 3000m steeplechase during the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

NeoGrowth appoints Ajinkya Rahane as brand ambassador

• NeoGrowth Credit Pvt. Ltd, a lender to small businesses, has announced the appointment of cricketer Ajinkya Rahane as its brand ambassador. The agreement is for a year which can be extended further.

• Rahane will feature in a campaign slated to be released in the first week of April, which will talk about the ease of procuring loans through NeoGrowth for small businesses. The campaign “Keeping it simple” will show the day-to-day struggles of small businesses while scaling up and how NeoGrowth can help them overcome them.

IMPORTANT DAYS

UN French Language Day Observed Globally on 20 March

• The UN French Language Day is observed annually on 20 March. The day was established by the UN’s Department of Public Information in 2010, to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization. March 20 was chosen as the date for the French language since it coincides with the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of La Francophonie, representing countries and regions where French is a customary language.

• The date of French Language Day was chosen symbolically in reference to March 20, 1970, which marks the creation of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT), which became the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF).

World Oral Health Day is observed on 20 March

• World Oral Health Day is observed every year on 20th March. It focuses on highlighting the benefits of good oral health, spreads awareness about oral diseases and promotes maintenance of oral hygiene. The theme for the next three years, 2021-2023 is: Be Proud Of Your Mouth. The day is an initiative of FDI World Dental Federation; an organization that brings together the world of dentistry with the aim of achieving optimal oral health for everyone.

• Oral health is as important as general health. It helps you maintain a healthy mouth, teeth and gums. It also helps to improve your appearance. Poor oral health can not only lead to oral diseases but also major health problems like heart disease, diabetes mellitus, stroke, respiratory problems and premature births in pregnant women.

International Day of Happiness: 20 March

• International Day of Happiness is celebrated on March 20 to promote happiness as a fundamental human right for all human beings across the world. The 2021 International Day of Happiness campaign theme is ‘Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind’.

• Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012.

World Sparrow Day: 20 March

• World Sparrow Day is celebrated every year on March 20 to raise awareness about the House Sparrow and other common birds to urban environments, and of threats to their populations. The theme of 2021 World Sparrow Day “I LOVE Sparrows”. The day was initiated by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world. The first World Sparrow Day was celebrated in 2010.

• The sparrows are known to live in the backyards and green patches in urban areas but “in the last two decades, their population is on the decline in almost every city,” according to the wwfindia.org.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

PNB sets-up subsidiary to manage credit card business

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary namely “PNB Cards & Services Ltd” to manage its credit card business. The PNB Cards & Services Ltd has been incorporated on March 16, 2021, by the Registrar of Companies, Delhi.

• The new subsidiary will undertake the non-financial support services related to the credit card business of the bank. The authorised capital of the company is Rs 25 crore and the paid-up capital is Rs 15 crore.

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Important Current Affairs 6th March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Australia building world’s first platypus sanctuary

• Australian conservationists have unveiled plans to build the world’s first refuge for the platypus, to promote breeding and rehabilitation as the duck-billed mammal faces extinction due to climate change.

• The Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the New South Wales State government said they would build the specialist facility, mostly ponds and burrows for the semi-aquatic creatures, at a zoo 391 km from Sydney, by 2022.

NATIONAL

DRDO successfully flight test SFDR technology

• The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful flight test of Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology from the integrated test range (ITR), Chandipur, off Odisha coast. The SFDR technology will help DRDO with the technological advantage to develop long-range air-to-air missiles (AAMs). DRDO began developing SFDR first in 2017 and had conducted successful tests in 2018 and 2019 as well.

• The SFDR is a missile propulsion system being developed primarily by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in Hyderabad.

• The High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL) has developed the nozzle-less booster while the ramjet engine is being developed with Russian assistance.

• The performance of the missile was monitored using the data captured by Electro-Optical, Radar and Telemetry instruments deployed by ITR and confirmed successful demonstration of the mission objectives.

SPORTS

J&K tops medals tally at Khelo India Winter National Games

• Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir topped the medals tally in the second edition of the Khelo India Winter National Games.  J&K won 11 gold, 18 silver and 5 bronze medals. The five-day mega sports event which began on the 26th of February concluded in the famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The event was e-inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

• The second edition of the Khelo India winter games is a major step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of the winter games.

• In the event, more than 1,000 athletes from 27 states and union territories took part.

• The event was organised by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in collaboration with the J&K Sports Council and the Winter Games Association of Jammu and Kashmir.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Mary Kom appointed chairperson of AIBA’s champions and veterans committee

• Six-time world champion boxer Mary Kom has been appointed as the Chairperson of the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) Champions and Veterans Committee. The 37-year-old was voted to the post by AIBA’s board of directors on March 03, 2021.

• The Committee was formed in December 2020. It consists of the most respected worldwide boxing veterans and champions who have achieved significant results and who are ready to share their experience.

IMPORTANT DAYS

India to commemorate ‘Chabahar Day’ on 4 March

• The Ministry of External Affairs India had commemorate ‘Chabahar Day’ on March 4 on the sidelines of the Maritime India Summit 2021 being held in New Delhi. The virtual event had see the participation of ministers from Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. The Summit is being held from March 2-4, 2021.

• The ministerial-level opening session would be followed by two webinar sessions namely the ‘Boosting Business through Trade Promotion and Regional Connectivity’ and ‘Development of Port Infrastructure: Unleashing Opportunities’.

• It is a seaport in Chabahar which is located in south-eastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman. The port serves as the only oceanic port of Iran.

• The port comprises two separate ports namely the Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari. The port was first proposed by the last shah of Iran in the year 1973. The first phase was opened in 1983.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India-Sweden Virtual Summit 2021

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has participated in the virtual India-Sweden summit, with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven. The virtual summit was organised to exchange views on regional and global issues and to discuss the bilateral relations between the two countries. This was the fifth interaction between the two leaders since 2015.

• Both the leaders underlined that the longstanding close relations between India and Sweden were based on shared values of democracy, rule of law, pluralism, equality, freedom of speech, and respect for human rights.

• Prime Minister Modi welcomed Sweden’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

• The leaders also noted the growing member-ship of the India-Sweden joint initiative – the Leadership Group on Indus-try Transition (LeadIT) that was launched during the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019 in New York.

• The two leaders also discussed the Covid-19 situation including the vaccination drive and stressed the need for vaccine equity by providing urgent and affordable access to vaccines across all nations.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Bihari Puraskar 2020 to be awarded to Mohankrishna Bohara

• The 30th Bihari Puraskar for 2020 will be given to Mohankrishna Bohara for his Hindi book of Criticism, titled Taslima: Sangharsh aur Sahitya. The K.K. Birla Foundation announced this in New Delhi. The book was published in 2016.

• Bihari Puraskar carries award money of two lakh 50 thousand rupees, a Citation and a Plaque. The award is one of the three literary awards instituted by the K.K. Birla Foundation in 1991. Named after famous Hindi poet Bihari, the award is given every year for an outstanding work in Hindi or Rajasthani published in the last 10 years by a Rajasthani writer.

WAN-IFRA names The Hindu Group ‘Champion Publisher of the Year 2020’

• The Hindu Group won two golds and two silvers at South Asian Digital Media Awards given by WAN IFRA (World Association of News Publishers), culminating in being named ‘Champion Publisher of the Year’, owing to the highest tally on the points table.

• The awards are presented in recognition of outstanding work done by news publishers, in digital media. The winners were honoured virtually at the Digital Media India 2021 Conference held on March 3, 2021.

RANKING

Indore and NDMC tops Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020

• The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has released the final rankings of the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020. The ranking has classified municipalities into two categories based on their population which are: million-plus category and the less than million categories. The Municipal Performance Index will help Municipalities in better planning and management, filling the gaps in city administration, and improving the liveability of cities for its citizens.

Million plus population category

• Indore has topped this list, followed by Surat and Bhopal.

Less than a million category

• New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) emerged as the leader, followed by Tirupati and Gandhinagar.

Municipal Performance Index 2020

• The Municipal Performance Index 2020 has examined the sectoral performance of 111 municipalities. Delhi has been assessed separately for NDMC, and the three Municipal Corporations.

• They have been accessed across five verticals which comprise of 20 sectors and 100 indicators in all totality.

• The five verticals under the Municipal Performance Index are Services, Finance, Policy, Technology and Governance.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

NPCI Partners SBI Payments to launch “RuPay SoftPoS” for Merchants

• National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and SBI Payments have partnered to launch “RuPay SoftPoS” for Indian merchants. The RuPay SoftPoS solution will provide a cost-effective acceptance infrastructure to retailers at a nominal cost. This innovative solution has the capability to transform NFC enabled smartphones into merchant Point of Sale (PoS) terminals for the retailers.

• RuPay SoftPoS is expected to provide seamless, cost-effective acceptance infrastructure to retailers at a nominal cost, and help deepen the digital payment acceptance among millions of underserved Indian MSMEs.

• RuPay SoftPoS will enable merchants to use their near-field communication (NFC)-enabled smartphones as the point of sale (PoS) terminals and accept payment up to Rs 5,000 through a simple tap and pay mechanism.

• Merchants can convert their existing android smartphone devices into a payment terminal by simply downloading a supported app.

• This solution will revolutionise the way micro and small merchants receive payments and create a demarcated shift in their tendency to deal in cash to accepting secure, contactless digital payments instead.

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Important Current Affairs 12th February 2021

NATIONAL

Manasa Varanasi crowned VLCC Femina Miss India World 2020

• Telangana-based Manasa Varanasi has been crowned as the winner of VLCC Femina Miss India World 2020. Manasa Varanasi was crowned by the winner of Miss India 2019, Suman Ratan Singh Rao from Rajasthan.

• The 23-year-old will now represent India at the 70th Miss World pageant in December 2021. Born in Hyderabad, Manasa Varanasi is an engineer by profession and works as a financial information exchange analyst.

PM Modi inaugurates World Sustainable Development Summit 2021

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 through video conferencing. The theme of the Summit is ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’. 2021 WSD Summit is the 20th edition of the flagship event organised by ‘The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)’.

• The Summit will bring together a wide number of governments, business leaders, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and the civil society in the fight against climate change. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Earth Sciences are key partners of the Summit.

Vijayanagara officially declared as 31st District of Karnataka

• The Karnataka government issued an official gazette notification to declare Vijayanagara as the 31st district of the state. The new district has been carved out of Ballari and named after the Vijayanagara empire that ruled from this region.

• The Vijayanagara district will have six taluks and its headquarter will be at Hosapete. The other taluks in the new district are Kudligi, Hagaribommana Halli, Kotturu, Hoovina Hadagali, and Harapanahalli. The iconic cluster of monuments at Hampi or Hampe, a UNESCO world heritage site, will be part of the Vijaynagara.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

UAE Hope Probe successfully enters Mars’ orbit

• The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has put a probe called Hope in the orbit around the MARS. UAE has become the fifth country to launch the spacecraft into the orbit of MARS after United States, Soviet Union, Europe and India. With the successful launch of spacecraft in orbit, UAE scientists can now study the planet’s atmosphere.

• The space mission will carry the study on daily and seasonal weather cycles and weather events such as dust storm in the lower atmosphere. It will study how the weather varies in different regions on the MARS.

• The spacecraft had left the Earth seven months ago.

• The spacecraft carries three instruments with it to observe how neutral atoms of Oxygen and Hydrogen leak into space. The hydrogen and oxygen came into the MARS’ atmosphere are the remnants from Mars’ once abundant water.

• The Hope spacecraft will bring the spectacular, high-resolution, full-disk images of MARS.

• The spacecraft also seeks to study why the planet is losing the hydrogen and oxygen into space.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Epilepsy Day 2021

• The International Epilepsy Day is observed on the second Monday of February every year across the world. In 2021, the International Epilepsy Day was observed on February 08.

• The day is organised jointly by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) to raise awareness about epilepsy and highlight the kinds of problems faced by victims, their friends and family. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which makes a person go through sudden and recurrent episodes of sensory disturbances.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Koozhangal” Wins Tiger Award at Rotterdam International Film Festival 2021

• The Tamil film “Koozhangal” has won “Tiger” award, at the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021. The Tiger award is the top honour of the festival, given for best film. Koozhangal (meaning Pebbles) has been Produced by Nayanthara and directed by Vinod Raj PS.

• This is the second Indian film to win this international award and the first Tamil Film. The first Indian film was “Durga” directed by the Malayalam director Shashidharan. The Tiger Award worth Euro 40,000 cash prize, is shared between the director and producer of the winning film.

Bengaluru Airport Bags ACI World’s ‘Voice Of The Customer’ Award

• The International Epilepsy Day is observed on the second Monday of February every year across the world. In 2021, the International Epilepsy Day was observed on February 08.

• The day is organised jointly by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) to raise awareness about epilepsy and highlight the kinds of problems faced by victims, their friends and family. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which makes a person go through sudden and recurrent episodes of sensory disturbances.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

New Development Bank Commits $100 million in NIIF Fund of Funds

• The New Development Bank (NDB) has committed to invest USD 100 million (Rs 727.6 crore), into the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited (NIIF) Fund of Funds (FoF). With NDB’s investment, the total commitments secured by the FoF has reached $800 million (about Rs 5,820 crore). This investment marks NDB’s first equity investment into India and its first-ever investment into a Fund of Funds.

• Currently, the Government of India (GoI), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are the investor in the FoF. Now NDB has joined the group. The FoF was established in 2018 with the objective of providing homegrown Indian private equity fund managers access to an India-focused institutional investor that operates at scale.

• The Investments will hugely benefit the Indian economy which is facing difficulties due to pandemic.

• It will also support India’s efforts to boost investment in infrastructure.

• NDB’s support will further address issues like investment gaps, availability of institutional funding for domestic private equity funds.

PhonePe partners with Axis Bank on UPI multi-bank model

• Digital payments platform, PhonePe has announced that it has partnered with Axis Bank on a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) multi-bank model. The partnership will provide PhonePe users with the option to create and use multiple UPI IDs with Axis Bank’s “@axl” handle.

• This collaboration with PhonePe strengthens our commitment towards digitisation of the Indian payment ecosystem. It will help expand our reach to customers and the merchant community while offering secure and seamless payment experiences.

• PhonePe had emerged as the top UPI app in January, processing 968.72 million transactions worth ₹1.92 trillion, according to data by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). PhonePe will also start acquiring merchants with Axis Bank in addition to its partnership with YES Bank. It will help expand our reach to customers and the merchant community while offering secure and seamless payment experiences.

RBI to conduct bond purchases for Rs 20,000 crore

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that it will purchase four government securities (G-Secs) that amount to ₹20,000 crores. The central bank will purchase it on February 10, 2021, under the open market operations (OMOs). This move was announced in aftermath of the yields that were moving up to touch the intra-day high of 6.1634 per cent recently. The RBI was concerned about the higher government borrowing.

• After the announcement of the OMO purchase was made, the yield on the benchmark 10-year G-Sec slowed down by 3-4 basis points. It now carries a coupon rate of 5.77 per cent as opposed to its previous closing yield of 6.1283 per cent.

• Open Market Operations are the purchase and sale of the Government securities (G-Secs) by RBI from and to the market. The Open Market Operations are conducted with the objective of adjusting the rupee liquidity conditions in the economy. In such operations, when RBI sells the government security in the market banks use to purchase them. When the banks purchase the Government securities, their ability to lend money to the industries, households and other commercial sector gets reduced. Following the reduced surplus cash, the liquidity of the rupee also contracts. This results in contraction of the credit creation or the credit supply. On the other hand, when the RBI purchases the securities, commercial banks find gets surplus cash and this in turn creates more credit in the system.

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Important Current Affairs 5th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Reliance sources world’s first ‘carbon-neutral’ oil from United States

• Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd has received the world’s first consignment of ‘carbon-neutral oil’ from Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a division of United State oil major Occidental. This feat will further help the oil major to accomplish its target of becoming a net zero-carbon company by 2035.

• The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Sea Pearl containing the carbon-neutral oil from Permian basin, unloaded the cargo at Jamnagar on January 28, 2021. It must be noted that Reliance operates the world’s largest single-location oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat with a capacity of 68.2 million tonnes a year.

• This transaction is the first major petroleum shipment of Reliance, for which greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the entire crude lifecycle, including oil extraction, transport, storage, shipping, refining, subsequent use, and combustion, have been offset.

Andy Jassy set to replace Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO

• Amazon.com Inc founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos has announced that he would step down as CEO of the company and become Executive Chairman in Q3 of 2021, i.e. with effect from July 01, 2021.

• Andy Jassy, who is currently serving as the chief executive of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will replace Bezos as CEO of Amazon. Bezos started the company 27 years ago, on 5 July 1994, as an internet bookseller.

NATIONAL

Ayesha Aziz becomes India’s Youngest Female Pilot at 25

• A 25-year-old Kashmiri woman, Ayesha Aziz, has become the youngest female pilot in the country. She became the youngest student pilot to get a license at the age of 15 in 2011. The 25 -year-old from Kashmir who is the youngest female pilot in the country acts is a source of inspiration and a beacon of empowerment for numerous Kashmiri women.

• In the year 2011, Aziz became the youngest student pilot to get a license at the age of 15 and underwent training to fly a MIG-29 jet at Russia’s Sokol airbase the following year. She later graduated in aviation from the Bombay Flying Club (BFC) and obtained a commercial license in 2017.

GoI launches unified web portal for monitoring progress of GOBARDHAN activities

• Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria jointly launched a unified web portal for monitoring the progress of GOBARDHAN activities across the nation.

• Gobardhan aims to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste.

• It focuses on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to useful compost, biogas and bio-CNG.

• It will also help in keeping the village clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders.

• It will be hugely beneficial for the country as India is home to the highest cattle population in the world (around 300 million in number) which produces around 3 million tonnes of dung.

• It will encourage farmers to consider dung and other waste not just as waste but as a source of income.

• It will provide many benefits to rural people by keeping villages clean and sanitized, improving livestock health and increasing farm yields.

Punjab CM launches ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission

• Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has virtually launched the ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission as part of the government’s campaign to accomplish the goal of 100 per cent potable piped water supply in all rural households. The scheme is being funded by the World Bank, Jal Jeevan Mission of GoI, NABARD, and State Budget.

• The scheme will benefit more than 1.6 lakh residents from 155 villages in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, and Gurdaspur districts by helping replace groundwater with surface water supply for drinking, besides resolving the problem of arsenic affected habitations.

• The Chief Minister also inaugurated one Mega Surface Water Supply Scheme covering 85 villages in the Moga district, 144 new water supply schemes for 172 villages, 121 Arsenic, and Iron removal plants.

Aero India 2021 Begins in Bengaluru

• The Aero India 2021 event, country’s premier aerospace and defence exhibition, kick-started at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru. The 13th edition of the international event touted as the world’s first-ever hybrid aero and defence show will see several aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Army, Navy, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), and the Coast Guard participating in the show.

• The three-day event will focus on India’s indigenous defence sector capabilities amid buzz around Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India campaigns.

• This 13th edition will see a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition with 601 exhibitors, including 523 from India and 78 from 14 foreign countries.

• Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would exhibit its Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight.

India’s First Amputee Clinic Launched In Chandigarh

• The first of its kind ‘amputee clinic’ in India, has been launched by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), a premier medical and research institution in Chandigarh. The basic intent of this initiative is to bring an Amputee as a near-normal functional human being in society. This initiative will attempt to provide appropriate management to amputees to guide them in their path to rehabilitation in society and will support patients with counselling and medical facilities during their treatment and recovery.

• ‘PGI Amputee Clinic’ in Chandigarh has been set up with the aim of improving amputation patient care by providing a collection of services under one roof with significant coordination. The clinic will provide social, mental and physical support to its patients.

Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS) Conclave Organised at Bengaluru

• Raksha Mantri, Rajnath Singh has inaugurated the ‘Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS) Conclave’ at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The two-day conclave has been organised by Indian Air Force, from 3 to 04 February 2021, in a Hybrid Form with extensive use of digital media.

• The Chiefs of Air Staff from about 75 countries would come together on a single platform to exchange their thoughts on current issues related to aerospace power strategy and technological developments.

• The Conclave is a perfect example of India’s Defence Cooperation with other countries working as a diplomatic instrument, giving an opportunity for building bridges of friendship, mutual trust and capacities on a global basis. Promoting transparency in defence cooperation and building areas of common interests in military aviation will be focus areas of the CAS Conclave.

SPORTS

Ashok Dinda announces retirement from all forms of cricket

• Fast bowler Ashok Dinda, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The 36-year-old right-handed pacer made his first-class debut for Bengal in 2005 and played for 15 years in Bengal cricket.

• He made his international debut in 2009, in a T20I against Sri Lanka, followed by making his ODI debut in Zimbabwe in 2010. He played 13 ODIs and 9 T20I matches for India. He played 116 first-class matches for Bengal, taking 420 wickets at a bowling average of 28.28.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Centre Appoints Praveen Sinha as interim Director of CBI

• Department of Personnel and Training, under Personnel Ministry, has appointed Praveen Sinha, as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), with immediate effect on 03 February 2021. He has been appointed in place of the incumbent chief RK Shukla, whose tenure came to an end on February 03, 2021.

• Sinha, a 1988-batch Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, is currently an additional director at CBI, the premier investigating agency of India. Sinha shall look after the duties of Director CBI till the appointment of new director CBI, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

PHDCCI Report: India to emerge as second most resilient economy in 2021

• India will emerge as the second most resilient economy in 2021, as per the International Economic Resilience (IER) Rank, released by industry body, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI). The ranking has been topped by Germany, among the top-10 leading economies. South Korea is at the third position in the list.

• Apart from this, India’s real GDP growth rate is projected to be the highest in the year 2021 among the top-10 leading economies in the world, at 11.5%. It reflects India’s strong “economic resurgence” to the global economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Important Current Affairs 1st February 2021

National

Smriti Irani inaugurates 8th India International Silk Fair

• Textiles Minister Smriti Irani today inaugurated the 8th India International Silk Fair on Virtual Portal. The fair is considered to be India’s biggest silk fair, being held under one roof on Indian Silk Export Promotion Council’s virtual platform. The five days event is being held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic.

•  Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Irani said that more than 200 overseas buyers have already registered and equal number of their representatives in India will be interacting with more than 100 renowned and big Indian companies manufacturing and trading silk and silk blended products. She called upon the exhibitors and overseas buyers to take part in this initiative to celebrate the beauty and vibrancy of Indian silk.

•  India has  long history of silk production and is the 2nd largest producer of Silk. India is the only country in the world which produces all the four major varieties of silk - Mulberry, Eri, Tassar, and Muga.

India’s First ‘Gender Park’ in Kerala’s Kozhikode

• The Kerala government is all set to launch Rs 300 crore three-tower ‘Gender Park’ in Kozhikode. The park will become functional on the occasion of the second edition of the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-II). The park will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in between February 11-13 that will also mark the inauguration of the second edition of ICGE-II.

• The gender park was established with the aim of creating relevant interventions so as to address a range of gender-based issues. It includes both off-campus and on-campus activities and other projects that work to empower the individuals and communities.

• The gender park was established by the government of Kerala in 2013. It is an initiative that works towards gender equality and empowerment in Kerala. The headquartered for the initiative is in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

• However, the main campus is at Silver Hills, Kozhikode. The campus has an area of 24-acre. The park has been set with its main focus on gender justice.

• The platform will provide an environment for policy analysis, research, capacity development, advocacy, economic and social initiative. The park will be operational under the Department of Social Justice. This space is first of its kind across the world.

Sports

BCCI cancels Ranji Trophy 2020-21 for first time

• The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided not to conduct the Ranji Trophy in 2020-21. This will be the first time in 87 years since its inception in 1934-35, that India’s premier first-class cricket national championship will not be held in 2020-21 domestic season.

• Instead on Ranji Trophy, BCCI has decided to conduct the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50-over tournament and Senior Women’s One Day tournament after the completion of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament.

Appointment & Resignation

Facebook appoints henry moniz as its first cco

• Henry Moniz, who has been the chief compliance officer and chief audit executive at media company ViacomCBS Inc., will join Facebook on Feb. 8 to lead the company's global compliance team, according to Facebook. He will be the first person to hold the compliance chief title at Facebook.

R S Sharma appointed as new CEO of Ayushman Bharat Scheme

• The National Health Authority (NHA) has appointed RS Sharma as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of country’s flagship public health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, also called Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. He would replace Indu Bhushan, who is serving as the Chief Executive of the Ayushman scheme since its inception in 2018.

• RS Sharma, a former chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), who would take charge of the NHA from February 1.

• Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme of Government of India, was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This initiative has been designed to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its underlining commitment, which is to “leave no one behind.”

• Ayushman Bharat is an attempt to move from sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service. This scheme aims to undertake path-breaking interventions to holistically address the healthcare system (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care) at the primary, secondary and tertiary level. Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach.

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah takes over as President of ACC

• Jay Shah, the incumbent Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been appointed as the new President of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). He is the youngest person ever to be appointed to the office. He replaces Nazmul Hussain, Chief of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) who was the previous chief of the ACC.

• The ACC is Asia’s regional administrative body and it currently consists of 24 member associations. ACC is responsible for organizing the Asia Cup tournaments. The 2020 edition of the Asia Cup was postponed to June this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan was to originally host the tournament but the tournament is now expected to be held in either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

Obituary

Nobel Prize Winner Paul Crutzen passes away

• The Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul J. Crutzen, has passed away. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, jointly with Mario J. Molina and F.

• Sherwood Rowland, for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone. He was known for his work on the ozone layer and climate change and for popularizing the term ‘Anthropocene’ to describe a proposed new era when human actions have a drastic effect on the Earth.

Important Days

Indian Coast Guard to celebrate 45th Raising Day

• The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will celebrate its 45th Raising Day today, February 1.

• According to an official release by the Ministry of Defence, the ICG has played a significant role in securing the Indian Coasts and enforcing regulations within the maritime zones of India.

• The ICG seized contraband worth Rs 1,500 crore and ten illegal foreign fishing boats with 80 miscreants in the Indian exclusive economic zone in 2020.

• A country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area extending from the coastline to 200 nautical miles in the sea, wherein it has exclusive rights to fish, drill and also conduct other economic activities.

World Leprosy Day 2021: 31 January

• World Leprosy Day is observed around the world on the last Sunday of January every year. This year World Leprosy Day held on 31 January. The day is celebrated to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.

• This year theme of World Leprosy Day 2021 is “Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and advocate for Mental Wellbeing ”.

• The day was initiated in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, as a tribute to the life of the Mahatma Gandhi who had compassion for people afflicted with leprosy.

Ranking

India ranks 10th in ‘Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index’

• India ranked 10th out of 11 Asia Pacific countries in a newly-launched health index to measure the progress towards personalised healthcare. Singapore(1st), Taiwan (2nd), Japan (3rd) and Australia (4th) also performed well in overall readiness. These include Policy Context, Health Information, Personalised Technologies and Health Services.

• The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report ”Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index” measures the readiness of 11 health systems across the region–Australia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand–in adopting personalised healthcare, enabling the right care to be tailored to the right person at the right time.

• The ‘Personalised Health Index’ measures performance against 27 different indicators of personalised health across four categories called ”Vital Signs”.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Indo-French Exercise Desert Knight-21 begins

• Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force are conducting a bilateral Air exercise, Ex Desert Knight-21 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two Air forces. It is unique as it includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premiers Air Forces.

• The French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel. The Indian Air Force aircraft participating in the exercise will include Rafale, Mirage 2000, Sukhoi-30 MKI among other aircraft.

NATIONAL

Cabinet approves Rs 5,282-cr investment for 850 MW Ratle project on Chenab river

• The Union Cabinet has approved 850 megawatts (MW) Ratle hydropower project worth an Rs. 5281.94 crore on Chenab river in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. The project is being implemented under the Centre’s plan to expedite strategically important hydropower projects in the union territory post its reorganization.

• The project will be developed by a new joint venture company between state-run National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC), where NHPC will have a 51% stake in the JV firm, while the balance will be held by JKSPDC.

CM Thakur launches HP’s first online youth radio station

• Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has launched Himachal Pradesh’s first online youth radio station ”Radio Hills-Youngistan Ka Dil”. The Chief Minister appreciated the efforts of young entrepreneurs. The developer of the online radio Karan, and Radio Jockeys Palak, Rahul and Nidhi were also present on the occasion.

• The online radio would go a long way in promoting the culture and traditions of the state, besides providing an opportunity to the youth to exhibit their talents. The founders of the online radio, Deepika and Saurabh.

Gujarat to Rename Dragon Fruit as ‘Kamalam’

• The Gujarat state government has renamed dragon fruit as ‘Kamalam’. The move has kept the internet in splits and many criticized it using the hashtag #SanskariFruitSabzi. As per Gujarat Chief Minister, the dragon fruit has been renamed Kamalam because of the shape of the fruit.

• The state government has applied for the patent of the fruit named Kamalam. This was announced at the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission. The Horticulture Development Mission is a scheme to promote horticulture in the unproductive regions of the state as well.

Howrah-Kalka Mail Renamed as “Netaji Express”

• One of the oldest trains of Indian Railways, the Howrah-Kalka Mail has been renamed as the ‘Netaji Express’. Indian Railways have renamed the train just a few days before the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23.

• Howrah-Kalka Mail was started in the 19th Century as one of the early commercial passenger train services in India.

• The Kalka mail has always been popular for connecting Howrah with Kalka and has enjoyed steady patronage.

• It is believed that Netaji took this train from Bihar’s Gomoh after escaping from his house in Kolkata in the year 1941.

OBITUARY

Malayalam actor Unnikrishnan Namboothiri passes away

• Veteran Malayalam actor, Unnikrishnan Namboothiri has passed away while contracting COVID-19. He made his acting debut in 1996 with Desadanam. However, he became a household name among the Malayalam film audience for his performance as a witty grandfather in Kalyanaraman (2002).

• Unnikrishnan is well known for movies like Kaikudunna Nilavu (1998), Kaliyattam (1997), Pammal K Sambandam (2002), Sadanandante Samayam (2003), Madhuranombarakattu (2000), Rappakal (2005), and Pokkiri Raja (2010).

Former Arunachal Governor Mata Prasad passes away

• Former Arunachal Governor Mata Prasad has passed away at the age of 95.

• He served as minister in the Congress government in Uttar Pradesh in 1988- 89 and appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh in 1993.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

ACC appoints Sanjeev Kumar as new CMD of TCIL

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Sanjeev Kumar as the new Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL). According to an order from the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Kumar has been appointed to the post for a period of five years from the date of assumption of the charge of the post, or till the age of superannuation, or until further orders, whichever is earlier. He is currently serving as Director (Technical) in Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).

• Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is a Miniratna PSU under the administrative control of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications. TCIL, a premier telecommunication consultancy and engineering company is making available its vast and varied telecom expertise to friendly developing countries.

Govt appoints Siddhartha Mohanty as managing director of LIC

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has appointed Siddhartha Mohanty as the managing director of India’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) from February 1 onwards. He is currently CEO of LIC Housing Finance Limited. He will serve as the MD of LIC till his superannuation on June 30, 2023. He will be replacing TC Suseel Kumar, who is set to retire on January 31, 2021.

• LIC has four MDs and one chairman. Currently, MR Kumar is serving as the chairman of the corporation and TC Suseel Kumar, Vipin Anand, Mukesh Kumar Gupta, and Raj Kumar are serving as the MDs of LIC.

JSW Sports signs cricketer Rishabh Pant to manage commercial interests

• Rishabh Pant was signed by JSW Sports, the sports arm of JSW Group. The multi-year association between the two parties will see JSW Sports manage all commercial interests and marketing rights of the 23-year-old cricketer, who most recently played a starring role in India’s magnificent Test series win in Australia. As part of the association, JSW Sports will manage the athlete’s image positioning and all his commercial engagements, including brand endorsements and appearances, social media monetisation, and business deals.

• Ever since its inception in 2012, JSW Sports has worked towards maximising India’s sporting potential by working with promising Indian talents across Olympic sports, football, and kabaddi; including Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik and wrestling star Bajrang Punia.

Sundaram Finance names Rajiv Lochan as MD

• The board of Sundaram Finance has named Rajiv Lochan (director Strategy) as managing director with effect from April 1. Sundaram Finance Ltd has made top-level changes as the current managing director T.T. Srinivasaraghavan will be retiring on March 31, 2020.

• While the current deputy managing director Harsha Viji will assume the office of executive vice-chairman, and take responsibility for the overall strategy and direction of Sundaram Finance Ltd., and other group companies in financial services.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Axis Bank launches Aura Credit Card with health, wellness benefits

• Axis Bank has unveiled a credit ‘AURA’ exclusively loaded with several health and wellness benefits for its users at an affordable price. Axis Bank has partnered with Poshvine to offer benefits and specialists such as Decathlon, Practo, Fitternity, IndushealthPlus, 1MG etc., to offer a complete and unique health & wellness solution to the cardholders.

• Cardholders will get a discount on annual medical checkup through IndushealthPlus.

• It offers up to 4 free online video consultations for a month, with round the clock access to doctors on all 21 specialities. This is offered by Procto.

• It also offers 4 free online interactive fitness sessions for a month by Fitternity.

• Through this card, the users can have access to 16 recorded training sessions for one month and can choose from a wide range of sessions such as yoga and cross-functional training programs, etc.

Airtel Payments Bank launches ‘Airtel Safe Pay’

• To protect Airtel customers from the growing incidents of online payment frauds, Airtel Payments Bank has launched ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, a safe way to pay digitally. With ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel customers making UPI or net banking-based payments through Airtel Payments Bank, no longer have to worry about money flowing out of their accounts without their explicit consent.

• An India-First innovation, ‘Airtel Safe Pay’ leverages Airtel’s ‘telco exclusive’ strength of network intelligence to provide an additional layer of payment validation, compared to the industry norm of two-factor authentication.

• This offers the highest level of protection from potential frauds such as phishing, stolen credentials or passwords, and even phone cloning that catches customers unaware.

• Using ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel Payments Bank customers can make secure digital payments across millions of merchants, online retailers and utilities, and even send money.

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Important Current Affairs 21st January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Infosys receives Google Cloud Partner Status

• Infosys has recently announced that it has been accredited with the Google Cloud Partner Specialization in the data and analytics space. Infosys is among the top global system integrators which have been accredited with this specialization.

• Infosys has received this recognition as the company has successfully demonstrating end-to-end capabilities on Google Cloud including warehousing on the cloud and data ingestion.

• Infosys has showcased robust methodology, strong industry expertise, technical proficiency, success in specialized data and analytics solutions, and service areas.

• These data and analytics offerings are a part of Infosys Cobalt.

• Along with AI capabilities, these data and analytics offerings help in optimizing costs paving the way for AI and cloud-native digital transformation for enterprises, migrating workloads to Google Cloud, and modernize data landscapes.

• Infosys Cobalt is a set of services, platforms, and solutions for enterprises for enhancing and accelerating their cloud journey. The Infosys Cobalt provides more than 200 industry cloud solution blueprints and 14,000 cloud assets.

Joe Biden takes oath as 46th US President

• Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. He swore the oath of office moments after Kamala Harris, who became America’s first woman vice president, turning the page on Donald Trump’s tumultuous four years.  At 78, Biden is the oldest president in US history and only the second Roman Catholic president.

• Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama and first ran for president in 1987, plans to kick off his tenure with a flurry of 17 orders. Biden will immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord and stop the US exit from the World Health Organization and set new paths on immigration, the environment, Covid-19 and the economy.

• Biden, who is the oldest president in American history, took the oath by placing his left hand on his 127-year-old family Bible, which was held by his wife, Jill Biden. He used the same Bible during his swearing-in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware.

• Lady Gaga, in a poofy dress that was Valentine red, sang the national anthem and Tom Hanks prepared for a televised evening appearance with the new president.

• Jennifer Lopez sang a pop rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” often considered the unofficial US national anthem, ending it by exclaiming the words of the pledge of allegiance — a nation that promises “liberty and justice for all” in Spanish.

Netherlands PM Mark Rutte and his entire cabinet quits

• The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet has resigned recently over the childcare subsidies scandal, in which thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud. However, the Rutte government will stay on in a caretaker role until parliamentary elections in March 2021.

• The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister.

NATIONAL

15th India Digital Summit 2021 begins

• The India Digital Summit, the flagship event of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is one of the biggest conferences for the digital industry. Honourable Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & IT and Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is the chief guest, will deliver the inaugural address at the Summit.

• The summit, in its 15th year, will bring thought leadership on various digital initiatives that will cover Policies, Business, Investment, Advertising, Digital Commerce, Start-ups Ecosystem, Emerging Tech, and other Digital Trends.

• The theme for this year’s summit, which is being held virtually is ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat – Start of New Decade’ in line with the government’s ‘Make for the World’ Initiatives.

• The staggering increase in the total number of internet users in rural India recently presents us with the unique opportunity to establish India as a global powerhouse of Digital Growth.

Bhawana Kanth to become 1st woman fighter pilot at R-Day parade

• Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will become the 1st woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade. She will be a part of the Indian Air Force’s tableau in the 2021 Republic Day Parade that will showcase mock-ups of the light combat helicopter, light combat aircraft, and the Sukhoi-30 fighter plane.

• At present, Bhawana is posted in Rajasthan and flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.

• Bhawana is also one of the first women fighter pilots to be inducted into the Indian Air Force in the year 2016.

• She was inducted into IAF in 2016 along with Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi.

• Since then 10 women have been commissioned as fighter pilots in IAF.

• Induction of Bhawana and other two women fighters was an experimental scheme of induction of women in IAF’s combat stream introduced in the year 2015.

NITI Aayog Releases India Innovation Index 2.0

• NITI Aayog released the second edition of the India Innovation Index on 20 January 2021, along with the Institute for Competitiveness. India Innovation Index 2.0 or 2nd edition has released by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar. The index demonstrates the government’s continued commitment towards transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy. The report examines the innovation capabilities and performance of the states and union territories.

The innovation index ranking is based on five enabler parameters:

• Human Capital

• Investment

• Knowledge Workers

• ‘Business Environment

• ‘Safety and Legal Environment

Two performance parameters:

• Knowledge Output

• Knowledge Diffusion

• In the India Innovation Index-2020, the States and Union Territories have been divided into the 17 Major States, 9 City-States and Union Territories, and 10 North-East and Hill States.

In the 2020 ranking:

• Karnataka retained its first position in the Major States category. Maharashtra moved one position higher and stood at 2nd spot while Tamil Nadu slid to 3rd position.

• In the North East and Hill States category, Himachal Pradesh stands at first position followed by Uttarakhand and Manipur.

• Delhi stands at the first position while Chandigarh retained its second spot in the Union Territories and small States category.

Kiren Rijiju gets additional charge of Ayush Ministry

• Ministry for Sports and Youth Affairs, Kiren Rijiju has been given the additional charge of the Ayush Ministry. He will hold the fort till Shripad Yesso Naik recovers from an accident. The President has directed that this arrangement may continue till Shri Shripad Yesso Naik resumes his work related to Ministry of AYUSH.”

• The President, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed that during the hospitalisation and treatment of Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH); and Minister of State in Ministry of Defence, following a road accident, his portfolio related to Ministry of AYUSH, be temporarily assigned to Shri Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in addition to his existing portfolios.

Maharashtra renames Gorewada international zoo after Bal Thackeray

• The Maharashtra government has renamed Gorewada International Zoo in Nagpur as ‘Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoological Park. The zoological park will come up on nearly 2,000 hectares forest land.

• Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will inaugurate the Indian safari at the zoo on January 26. Three special 40-seat capacity vehicles and an online ticket booking facility will be made available to the people as soon after the Indian safari is inaugurated.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India, Singapore sign pact on submarine rescue support

• The 5th edition of the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) between India and Singapore was successfully held on 20 January 2021 through a video conference, in an effort to deepen military cooperation.

• During the meeting, the ‘Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation’ was signed between the two Navies. The agreement was signed between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Singaporean counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Goa CM releases book 'Manohar Parrikar - Off the Record'

• Goa Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant has released a book ‘Manohar Parrikar- Off the Record’ at a function organized at Institute Menezes Braganza hall in the city. The book has been written by senior journalist Waman Subha Prabhu.

• The book ‘Manohar Parrikar- Off the Record’ is a collection of memories of Mr Prabhu who happened to be with late Parrikar during the journey of his life. In the book, the author has endeavoured to narrate the multi-faceted personality of late Manohar Parrikar. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, while speaking, said Late Manohar Parrikar was a great visionary who had dreamt to serve Goa.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank launches ‘InstaFX’ mobile app

• ICICI Bank has launched a new mobile application ‘InstaFX’ for authorised money changers to help customers of any bank get ‘ICICI Bank Forex Prepaid Card’ swiftly. ICICI is the bank is the first in the country to offer such facility to money changers. A money changer is a person or organization whose business is the exchange of coins or currency of one country, for that of another.

• The ‘InstaFX’ app will enable the authorised money changers, who are partners of the Bank, to complete the KYC verification and validation of customers digitally and on a real-time basis.

• The ‘ICICI Bank Forex Prepaid Card’ gets activated swiftly within a few hours, as against the industry practice of up to two-days, thus it will significantly improve customer convenience, even if they are not customers of ICICI bank.

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